On the Line: Martin Tse of Dogzilla, Part One
Son Thai and Martin Tse of Dogzilla
Photo by Josue Rivas
While we normally don't prefer interviewing our subjects at their place of business, we often make exceptions for our luxe loncheras. Watching their team work in such a confined space and acting as host, order taker, cook and server is a daily lesson in camaraderie. We meet up with the gang from Dogzilla at an elementary school in Huntington Beach, where we learn that there are two other truck stops going on at the same time. It's competitive nights such as this that remind us just how tough it can be for a truck. Fortunately, Martin Tse is up for the task.
Your earliest childhood memory:
Turtle soup. I thought we were going to the store to get me a pet turtle. It didn't really turn out that way.
Favorite meal growing up:
Fried chicken. I was allergic to lamb when I was a kid, but my parents loved making lamb. So when they made lamb, I got fried chicken. I like Chinese fried chicken, with the drumsticks and hella MSG thrown in there. It was money.
Your best recent food find:
Watermelon juice from Cancun Juice; the tortas there are solid as well.
Most undervalued ingredient:
Furikake seasoning. I don't put it in everything, but it was something I grew up with. I started using it a lot in college. Ghetto college kids put it in rice. There are so many kinds. You can get them with bonito flakes, with or without egg, even sesame seeds. It's not like MSG. You put it on your popcorn, fries, everything.
What do you recommend for first-timers at Dogzilla?
Can never go wrong with a dogzilla. If you like spicy, go with a spicy dogzilla.
Who came up with your name?
My good friend Steve. He also came up with our tagline.
One food you can't live without:
Meat. Vegans, don't hate me.
Where was your most recent meal?
I had soup noodles at Mai Phung. It is so good. We go there so much. You can even get extra marrow in your pho. There's always a wait, but it's well worth it.
Best advice for aspiring truck owners:
Don't do it! Just kidding. Work hard. Play hard. Keep on truckin'!
How hot does it get in there? Ever get claustrophobic?
It gets hella hot. And you can't be in this industry if you're claustrophobic.
What is your goal for Dogzilla: brick-and-mortar, more trucks, or stay the same?
We are definitely interested in expanding to a brick-and-mortar shop as long as the timing and location are ideal.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
Crickets might've been the weirdest thing. I don't know. I'm Asian, so everything isn't really that strange.
Favorite places to eat (besides your own):
Honey Kettle Fried Chicken. It reminds me of the stuff I used to get in Chinatown [in San Francisco]. The crunch there is solid.
You're making breakfast. What are you having?
Lots of coffee. Black. No cream, no sugar -- nothing. I've been meaning to try Portola. I wanted to buy the Slayer machine just to have it, but it was too expensive.
How did you come up with the specialty hot-dog concept?
It was created on a dare.
Weirdest customer request (and did you do it?):
Dogzilla with yaki noodles and a fried egg. The customer walked off very pleased.
What surprised you most about operating a food truck?
All the city permits we are required to get.
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